March 25th, 2017 11:23 EST
Mattis Welcomes Greek Defense Minister to Pentagon
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos at the Pentagon today to discuss security and defense issues of mutual concern, Pentagon Spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement following the meeting.
The two leaders discussed a variety of topics, he said, including trans-Mediterranean migration; terrorism; and instability in the Balkans, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
Davis said the defense secretary thanked Greece for being one of five NATO allies that invests two percent of its gross domestic product on defense.
At a press briefing ahead of the meeting, Mattis also expressed his appreciation to Kammenos for hosting U.S. forces at Souda Bay, Crete -- the largest deep water port in the Mediterranean.
"He also noted Greece`s participation in NATO`s Aegean Activity and Kosovo Force and Greece`s strategic support in the counter-terrorism and extremism fight," Davis said.
"You know people say we can`t stop wars, we can`t stop fighting in this world, but we proved we can, in Kosovo -- a reminder that when the international community doesn`t turn its back on a problem, we can stop it," Mattis said.
"We can maintain stability, but it does take effort, and your continued effort there has paid off for all of Europe," the defense secretary added.
In their meeting, Mattis and Kammenos agreed that security along NATO`s southern flank is of great importance to the entire alliance, the captain said.
"We do see challenges to NATO and from our perspective, Russia and what they have done is something we have to confront. But there is a clear and present danger on the southern flank, which puts Greece as a front line nation in dealing with terrorism," Mattis said in the briefing. " ... We`ve got to stick together."
The defense secretary congratulated the minister and the people of Greece on the 196th anniversary of their independence, Davis said. The two leaders look forward to continued future engagement, he added.
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